‘I’ve Committed No Conflict of Interest; Motion to Recuse Denied’

Chief Justice ruling in the recuse petition against him on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019.

-Chief Justice Korkpor

Chief Justice Francis Saye Korkpor has declared in his ruling that he committed no conflict of interest when he, along with other Justices, signed the judgment without opinion in favor of Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh for the failure of Madam Annie Yancy Constance to have perfected her appeal.

In the presence of lawyers representing the House of Representatives and those for Justice Ja’neh and members of the Senate, Chief Justice Korkpor stated: “Thus, the key deciding factor is whether the Justice has made a decision or a pronouncement on the merit of the case.

“It goes without saying, therefore, that since the Supreme Court did not decide the Constance case on its merits I, as one of the concurring Justices, in that case, have expressed no view and taken no position on the merits of said case that will work prejudice to Justice Ja’neh by my presiding over this impeachment trial,” Korkpor said.

So, for all intents and purposes, the Chief Justice noted that Justice Ja’neh should not be the one raising the issue of conflict, even if there were any.

“The further question is: Is it a conflict of interest for the Supreme Court to meticulously apply the law passed by the Legislature? Can one be adjudged liable or guilty for applying the law? The answer is no,” the Chief Justice said.

“Therefore, I committed no conflict of interest when I, along with three other Justices signed the judgment without opinion in favor of Justice Ja’neh for the failure of Madam Constance to have perfected her appeal. So, as I have said time and again, it is by the dictates of the 1986 Constitution that I should preside over this impeachment proceedings; it is not of my making. The Constitution does not say who presides over the impeachment of the president, vice president or an associate justice in the absence of the chief justice or when the chief justice is incapacitated or disqualified,” Korkpor added.

Chief Justice Korkpor noted, “based on what I have said and given the circumstances of this motion to recuse, I hold that Justice Ja’neh has not established any legal and/or factual ground for me to recuse myself. The motion to recuse is therefore denied and dismissed. It is hereby so ordered.”

Seconds after the Chief Justice handed down his ruling, Cllr. Arthur Johnson, on behalf of Justice Ja’neh, announced that “Counselors for Justice Ja’neh excepts to the ruling, and will make use of the statute…”

However, the Chief Justice yesterday announced that the litigants in the trial will meet this morning at 10:a.m. and carry on some preliminaries regarding motions, and pre-trial arrangements.

Writ of Prohibition filed Against Senate Leadership

Meanwhile, the Justice-in-Chambers at the Supreme Court, Cllr. Joseph Nagbe, has cited the leadership of the Senate to a conference today, February 20, at 2:00 p.m. the Temple of Justice for a prohibition petition filed by Justice Ja’neh.

The letter, dated February 18, 2019, did not give reasons for the writ of prohibition, but the writ came on the eve of a reserved ruling on the petition for the Chief Justice by Counselors of Ja’neh to recuse himself.


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